Author: Nevan McKiernan


On Saturday last, one of the oldest and largest pedigree Charolais herds in the country, Skidoo, provided a sale that will be remembered for some time and showed that Charolais are still firmly in demand. It was evident from the outset that buyers travelled from far and wide to secure Skidoo bloodlines. The highlight of the day came when lot 25, Skidoo 96 Highlight 2 ET traded at €9,800. This six year old cow sold incalf, calving in February to Jumper. Sired herself by Major, she goes back on a Doonally New bred dam which goes back to a French import. Overall all 34 in calf cows calving in autumn sold to average over €3,700.

Top of the cows with spring calves at foot was the forth lot into the ring, Skidoo 96 Isolda ET, who sold for €6,500. This rising six year old is a daughter of the UK sire, Inverlochy Ferdie. Overall 82% of the cow and calf lots sold to average just shy of €4,000. Spring calves sold separate to the cows reached a top of €3,400 for Skidoo 96 Pipa 2.

The in calf heifer section seen a total of 26 forward with 22 finding new homes. These topped at €4,700, with an average price of €2,890. Topping this section was lot 86, Skidoo96 Nollaig. Born April 2017, this Goldstar Echo daughter carries five stars on the replacement index and sold in calf to Nippur.

Buyers remained around the ringside right until the very end. Last through the ring were the maiden heifers, where 27 lots sold to average €2,360. Topping these was a bid of €4,000 for lot 119, Skidoo96 Pamela. This January 2019-born daughter of Jumper goes back to a Fury Action-bred cow.

Other leading prices included –

Lot 16 Skidoo Jessica sired by Fury Action who sold for €5,400
Lot 23 Deeleview Jessica sired by Elgin Davinci who sold for €5,600
Lot 62 Skidoo96 L 1974 sired by Inverlochy Ferdie who sold for €5,000
Lot 85 Skidoo96 N 2198 sired by Artois who sold for €4,600
Lot 92 Skidoo96 N 2235 sired by Sesame who sold for €4,600

“Charolais Cross Heifers are the best type of Cattle to Finish”

The display of Charolais Cross Heifers on the farm of John Smyth from County Westmeath is truly a sight which any beef farmer would take pride in.  John runs a weanling/store heifer to beef system on his 300 acre farm near the village of Delvin.

Being an admirer of quality Cattle, John states that the percentage of Charolais heifers purchased every year would be between 70 – 80%. The remaining breeds of heifers on the farm are made up of Limousin and Belgian Blue bred heifers. John explained “the ideal heifer is a Charolais cross that comes from a good Limousin or Simmental cross cow, they will achieve the best growth rates and not lay on a fat cover too quickly”. 

John purchase’s his Heifers at his local marts such as Delvin and Carnaross.  He also travels the Country in order to seek quality, purchasing a large number of heifers from marts in the west of Ireland, such as Balla in County Mayo. A small proportion of heifers will be purchased as weanlings, while the remainder are purchased as yearlings. The criteria for purchasing is quite simple, the heifer must have good flesh, growth and showing signs of quality, which would be capable of achieving a U grade in the factory when the animal is finished.  Heifers are usually purchased at an average price of €2.25/kg, varying from weights of 400 kgs – 600 kgs live weight.

Being a member of the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme, the farm has no issue in obtaining a bonus at finishing, with all heifers being slaughtered through Kepak factories at under 30 months of age.  According to John, “ 60% of the heifers would definitely be achieving a U grade, with the remainder averaging an R+”.  Aiming to receive a price of €4.00/kg and averaging 380kgs – 390kgs dead weight, he insists “the better grading heifer is crucial in making any money from my Cattle and the Charolais never let me down.”

Why is Charolais the preferred breed for John’s farm?

John explained that when it comes to the Charolais, “they are simply the best cattle, that’s why they are always in demand. It can be seen on this farm when compared to the other breeds we buy, such as the Limousin and the Belgian Blues, the Charolais are the best weight carriers.”

The issue that John faces is that he simply can’t get enough Charolais heifers to buy.  He states “I wouldn’t buy any other breed if I could buy all Charolais, they are simply the best.  I have seen a lot of farmers bringing out a lot of other breeds, but if the suckler farmer can use a quality Charolais bull that has easy calving to match, it will pay the farmer to use a Charolais bull, because of the demand that’s out there ”  

High Index Pedigree Charolais Females for Sale in Louth

Pictured are some of the high index pedigree Charolais females which are currently for sale in County Louth. In the first picture is an Excellent sired cow and in the second picture is a Heifer by the French sire, Vosgien vf and a Blelack Digger bred dam. This Heifer has a five star replacement index of €105, a terminal index value of €141 and a calving figure of 6.6%. The Heifers for sale are both in calf to the easy calving, high index French sire, Chic, due around January 2020. For more information contact Fintan on 0868174151